Strangers on a Train.

You may not remember me, but I will always remember you.

All my life it’s been walking, buses, trains, what have you. Most of the time two hours a day or more to get to and from school for about a decade and a half. But having a passenger like you seated alongside me definitely was the most memorable for all the most humbling and heart provoking reasons.

It was the usual quick shuffle up and on to the train I’d taken the past four years to get to university. Finally on my way home after one of my final weeks of class I thought I’d retire to my usual aisle seat and flick on some tunes. Maybe watch the beautiful forests and farmer fields zoom by my window. Maybe take a long assessment of the back of my eyelids until the announcement that “we’ve arrived” comes through the intercom to wake me up, collect my things, and do the shuffle back off.

I had just found my seat and was juggling stuff into the overhead compartment when you tentatively cleared your throat and apologetically informed me that you may have to get past me to the aisle part way through our journey. I assured you that’d be no problem, sir, don’t worry about it. You nodded quickly and apologized for the inconvenience and returned to the window. I noticed in my peripheral, now more obviously because you’d introduced yourself, that ever since entering my line of vision you seemed to never sit quite still.

A shoulder tap again. Saying a quick prayer for an awareness of His heart for you, I settled into my seat, looked out the window at the beautiful forests and fields like always, and waited.

“I’m so sorry to bug you. I don’t really remember if I told you or not because I’m feeling out of sorts right now but did I mention that I might need to get by you?”

I assured you that you had, and that again, it would be no problem.

You apologized again, and turned to look out the window, shuffling your feet around.

Again I waited.

“I’m sorry, maybe you don’t like to talk. I don’t want to bug you, just are you going to school where you got on? You don’t have to answer.”

Stepping around the apology, I confirmed that yes, I did. Psychology. And then inevitably followed some ambigious mention of how I never really felt cut out for the program or university in general. And how it had been a very long haul with very little if anything to show for it or to feel proud of.

You mentioned how you had sometimes needed what the studies and psychologists in your life had to offer. To make you better and to understand some hard things. To help you through things. How it was a helpful field. And how on the really bad days, you would remind yourself how lucky you were for having a family who supported you and your professional arts career. You stopped halfway and apologized for taking up my time with your banter. How we had never met and here you were discussing all this stuff that I might not want to. How I could listen to music or read instead of talk to you. I waited, and then asked you more about your career and the journey to it. You said how lucky you were after depicting the journey for me. You said it again and again. How lucky you were. Most times it sounded in a way like you were saying it to yourself rather than to me, trying to convince yourself. You said it was the thing that made you feel the most alive, and kept you that way.

We talked a little more about your passion for your career. Honestly, I was impressed to say the very least. I talked about how I regretted not really being able to pursue art. How I wished I had fought more for it, and how I felt especially burdened now that I had wasted four years in something I barely felt proud of. But I said how it made me really appreciate art now when I was able to partake. How I appreciated it so much more than I ever had because it was such an uphill battle to follow and pursue and cultivate passions.

We talked music. We talked poetry. That’s when you pulled your well loved and definitely worn copy of Robert Service from the seat pocket in front of you. You were about to show me a poem when again, your energy and agitation overwhelmed you to another apology of being the silly stranger who wouldn’t shut up. You apologized and said how I didn’t have to pretend to be interested. That you had had seat partners in the past that plain just told you to shut up, some who had kind of nodded half hearted affirmation to be polite and not be abruptly dismissive. Some who had just thrown music on and shut you out completely. And, I waited. And listened.

I asked you what your favourite poem was. You snapped back out of your agitated state and excitedly flipped through the pages. It was so refreshing to see someone so excited about poetry and so personally attached as well. So inspired by art of people past. I asked you if you’d been to plays. You said you hadn’t really been able with your schedule. I said if you ever got a chance, there was a beautiful place in the city where you could sit in a forested amphitheater, picnic, and then enjoy a night of Shakespeare. You excitedly mentioned some of his pieces that most inspired you. How the rhythms of poetry were so soothing to you in times of agitation. How fascinating — and then you relapsed. You couldn’t find the word and it bothered you. Your already intermittent twitching turned into tapping your forehead, emphatic gesturing with your hands, trying with all your might to physically summon the word that evaded your memory. You stuttered but couldn’t find the word, becoming increasingly more flustered by the moment. You started to berate yourself for how could you be so stupid for not remembering.

Seeing your distress, I offered, “iambic pentameter?”

“YES! That’s it! Thank you, I can’t believe I couldn’t remember that.” I smiled and asked if I could read your copy of Robert Service. You excitedly obliged and handed it to me.

It’s about that time you pulled out a copy of King Lear, and we read quietly side by side, the white noise of the train on the tracks our background soundtrack. Sometimes you’d pipe up and mention another poem. And then apologize because you didn’t want to interrupt my reading. I chuckled, asked which one it was. Told you I had the rest of the train ride, and that I’d read it next.

And we read. And for the first time all trip, you seemed peaceful beside me. Quietly, and a little bashfully, you commented how you’d never had a seat partner as attentive or kind as me.

I know you couldn’t know. I know you couldn’t know that for always as a young girl and even still I struggled so hard to convey myself to peers. I know you couldn’t know that all my life I have loved peers intensely but struggled so hard to show them and convey it for fear of them not reciprocating, for fear of coming off intense, or for fear of flat out rejection. I know you couldn’t know how I had felt like such an inconvenience to people around me. How when I was bullied I would be told to shut up, be “politely” dismissed,  have people shut me out. I know you couldn’t know that from the moment I met you to the time I was sitting here now trying to hide choking on my thank you to your compliment, that I was seeing a whole lot of hurting and broken me in you. I was trying to not show tears because I realized that Jesus had enabled me somehow without me fully being aware to be the person to you that I had needed for quite some time. Good LORD Almighty.

I could basically hear the lies and belittling internal dialogue that you’d been subjected to for decades. I knew it way too well myself. We were very much kindred spirits in our woes. Though the specifics were vastly different, the struggle was the same.

And you couldn’t have known, but I knew that He loved you. I knew that the LORD marvelled at you, loved you all the way through your existence and before when He was making you. And then I realized that the way I was awestruck, fascinated, inspired, and in marvel of you despite your hardships, that that’s how He viewed me through my years of muck and mire.

good heavens.

That just about did me in. Seeing in real time how the LORD sees us despite our junk, shortcomings, broken parts, shameful parts, troubling parts. Despite our years of habit. Despite years of entrenched lies. Despite years of illness and struggle.

If you knew. God, if only you knew that it was ME who was so grateful for YOU being placed in my life.

That it was me in awe of you despite all obstacles you faced that you felt prevented you from being okay. Despite the things you’ve lost or felt like you compromised.

I just. Damn.

Seeing how the LORD loves people and that He loves me just as much has wrecked my life.

I can’t help but live a totally different life from the one I used to after knowing personally that kind of love. The way I see things including myself, other people, my struggles, my triumphs, my relationships.. you name it.

All different because of how He’s loved me. All so much more hopeful and beautiful because of how He’s loved me. DESPITE myself. Because I haven’t loved myself despite my best efforts. Some days, it’s really freaking hard to. But He’s right in there with me helping me through that. And I know that I’m loved at my worst even when I’m tapping out. Isn’t that what any of us ever wanted and needed? Someone to love us beyond whatever we could imagine, regardless or circumstance or trial?

Well that’s Jesus. That’s Him. That’s my whole hearted Father, Saviour, Friend.

Never have I stepped off a train feeling like I just came out of a divine appointment. But man, if ever, that was definitely it.

You may have thought I was a God-sent, but God sure sent Himself for you and me in His ongoing love and pursuit of us both and just, whoa. How He loves.

 

 

 

an odyssey: year 5, day 364.

One of my favourite past times while sitting up in my cot was playing with the early morning light on my hands that snuck through the slats of my blind. I played and cast shadows as my mind wandered. My roommate gave a cough. She was another friend on the mend who’d recently arrived and been mended after a nasty relationship left gaping claw marks in her chest. She resettled and I went back to playing with the light, my mind wandering to thoughts of You and how far my journey had unfolded since I’d arrived.

After years now, I’d had the chance to observe You in various harrowing scenarios. I’d had the chance also to build my own history with You.

Oh in those days how I didn’t know what to make of You. I was always keen on having people figured out, but You I just couldn’t unpuzzle. I scoff at my skepticism of Your intentions now. Not for a moment in all these years – never once – has Your character faltered.

No matter the amount of times I tried to catch You

trip You up

screamed at and became combative with You when I was in a state of pain and despair and delusion..

No matter the amount of times I watched You warily as You approached my bed side with a treatment

No matter how many times You found me wandering down the middle of city streets at 4 in the morning..

You stayed gentle, spoke the truth of my conditions softly with me. When I hurt You, You were quick to forgive me when I apologized. You spoke kindly to me, and didn’t hold my relapses against me.

Another cough from my roommate, this time wet and crackly. I snapped out of my memories and swung my feet out of bed and into my slippers on the floor by the side of my cot. I made haste to her bedside where now she had started to choke in her sleep. I ripped back the covers and could see a deep crimson stain spreading across the front of her night gown in the faint morning light. I bolted across the room to the blind and flung it wide to let the sun in.

“LORD, Come quick!!”

You were already by her side by the time I turned back around from the window. After some minutes of Your working over her, she quietly resettled and resumed her sleep as if never perturbed. You pulled her blankets back over her after reassessing Your work, tucking them in around her. Looking up and catching my gaze, You offered Your hand to me and I took it. We stepped out into the hall and You linked my arm through Yours as You pulled the door closed behind us with a soft click. We proceeded silently down the sun lit corridor to the examination rooms.

There was not a soul that sought Your sanctuary that You would turn away. You would take every wounded that managed to clamber or get carried to Your front door. Sometimes, You would go out and come back in carrying someone.

Regardless of who that someone was, all the people here would respond to You differently at first. Each had been badly wounded by different life circumstances, and it was fascinating and sometimes quite sad to see how the patients would treat each other. But still, You’d mend them and watch over them. I think about a year into recovery I realized the way You watched over them wasn’t just to mind they’re progress, but You genuinely loved each one. It was mind boggling. Especially since always at some point in the relationship that patient had to choose to fully trust that You were who You said You were. That part was always difficult to observe as a bystander. I wanted to shake the people who didn’t know You like I did when they would turn Your care that they desperately needed away. But You would never force them to stay. A sanctuary was a place of peace and protection for those who desired to stay, but I realized over time that if people were not here by their own accord it would be more like a prison. So strange that a place of such beauty like this could be considered a prison. But then I remembered how terrified I was when I was in fits of pain and delusion.

I’d learned over the years that there’s some mysterious aspects to Your nature, but it’s people who throw me into confusion about who You are. I’ve had to learn to be careful.

I used to know about You from others, but what my heart really longed for was to know You. Personally. Intimately. You are the best authority on Your own character after all.

[patient log status; completed.]

[archived.]

[impending log – 03/25/2017]

 

 

an odyssey: year 5, day 362.

the relentless furnace of reality has a way of igniting my wishful thinking, sending dreams and misplaced comfort up in smoke.

i know what I said because each moment is carved into my mind. I never tried to chisel them away because I needed the energy to survive, to exist.

i know what it’s like to be without Your presence. The cold and lonesome dark, the knife through my heart as the words “she’s gone” change my life forever.

yes I’m gone, far gone.

irretrievably lost unless You come and save me.

even though I cherished and loved all life long naturally, I was desperate to savour every interaction with anyone as if it were my last. I was desperate to see You, desperate to know there was something or someone who could help me.

always the child fearful of nothing but losing the loved ones she had, I lost my last breath when I heard you died. the thing that I feared most in life was an everyday and every night possibility that I tried desperately to see coming lest the surprise devastate me again. but for these matters, one could never be prepared.

so followed the six years of open heart surgery. so followed many surgical complications.

You had so much hope for me that I didn’t have for myself. I know Youre real, that You love me. I wouldn’t be coming back to life if it weren’t for Your skillful and loving hand.

“I’m not going anywhere,” they would tell me. And another shard of schrapnel would saw at my heart strings as I uncomfortably shifted, reminding me of the precise location it was lodged.

people to this day have always fallen into two categories. the ones that would inevitably leave over time and the ones that would leave despite our mutual passionate desire to stay with each other until the end.

death is so cruel. Jesus help me to not get swallowed by pain and fear of what has been known.

learning to live again post surgery is at times worse that the initial heart failure.

in my experience, as much as tragic things are tragic, what is intensely more difficult to swallow is the aftermath. I don’t know who that girl is in those photos from 6 years ago. she wears my face, but I dont know her. I’m dumbstruck. is it possible to be two totally different people in one lifetime?

ive struggled to remember much of anything accurately in the past six years. I remember her. I remember the summer following. almost everything apart from that is muddled together. almost. must be the anesthesia. time to rest.

[patient log status; completed.]

[archived.]

[impending log – 03/23/2017]

 

Peace And Grace For A Mind That’s Been Through A Lot.

So I didn’t think I’d be coming down to my basement to write, but sometimes plans change and you have to prioritize. Especially when you’re getting that shoulder tap again.

Many individuals have been on my heart and mind lately, and I’ve been wondering how they’re doing and for some of them I know how they’re doing and the prospect doesn’t seem rosy. Before I start I pray that you’d be given a time of quiet and peace as you read this, because He’s good, He does respond to your prayer and petition, and He’s kind. And it’s in His kindness to show you some things and draw you out of dark places that you’ve fallen into or dug yourself into.

Before writing this post I was wondering if I would be limiting the material by going from a personal stand point, but after some thought and prayer, I’m feeling pretty confident that this won’t be the case.

In a time of things going wrong, what do you call a room that one is permitted to enter, but not permitted to leave?

 

a prison cell.

After years and years, many mistakes, many mishaps, I’ve finally come to the conclusion that the grace I have for myself is NO WHERE NEAR sufficient to the grace I need. When things go wrong because I’ve made an error in judgement or things are crumbling through my hands despite much thought about all the outcomes, I cease up and lock down. It looks a lot like not caring for appearance, forgetting to eat, overindulging in eating, general apathy, overly emotional times, catastrophizing, shutting people out, or spilling my guts all over them. There’s just no sense of moderation anymore because my perception is that I’ve lost all control NOT that things are out of control around me.

So what do I do?

I lock myself in my head. Sometimes for days, sometimes for weeks. I think about all the things that went wrong. Try to piece events and faces and facts and intuitions together and try to make sense of it all and see if it could’ve gone differently. And almost always, there’s some level of berating myself for either not seeing it coming or for not doing better. The overthinking was intense enough that it would keep me up for days. Or weeks.

Spoiler: I’d get no where with my thinking. The incident still had occurred and I still just felt like junk. Even if I did manage to “make sense” of things – which was rare, it was still beyond my control to do anything or to be back in control of my surroundings (and believe me, I’d thought it through from all angles).

In essence, like that riddle suggests, I’d made my mind a prison cell. It sometimes wasn’t even intentional. I love to ponder all sorts of things over and my mind’s a safe place to do that. Please, by all means thinking things through and reflecting is not a bad thing. But if life is spiralling and your first move is to charge into your think space thinking you can somehow snatch the controls back… if life is spiralling despite your best efforts, were you really in control in the first place?

Things were going wrong all around me, and I’d entered my head and over thought and rethought and marinated and – I felt like a failure. And I was ashamed it went wrong. And I was scared that if I couldn’t understand it or make sense of it, it’d happen again. And I’d have the floor fall out from under me. Again. Sometimes, I would get so sick of thinking that I’d try and throw myself into other things but would still find myself haunted by thoughts of inadequacy. It seems that the door of the “safe” place I’d slammed shut behind me was more willing to remain closed than open up again.

I’m just gonna throw it out there, but that’s not healthy or right. The fact that I’m feeling scared, ashamed, afraid of the future and reoccurrence, or sometimes straight up hopeless that I’ll get past this because I’ve seen so much “proof” in my past and current situation that “how could it be any other way”.

Just, please. Stop. The problem is not God being mean or failing us or having it out for us or not listening. It’s that we didn’t take Him with us when we charged into our think space-turned-control-room mind. And that someone else who likes to mess with you snuck in with you while you weren’t looking. Things like being fearful, ashamed, and hopeless are not things of the Father or even of you. Yes, you hold yourself to a standard and you try to do your best, but you’re called His child for a reason. Because sometimes, children make messes or they find themselves in them. Good grief, He has grace for both scenarios. So be at peace. He’s here for us.

Have you ever seen a child try to get themselves out of a mess? Exactly. It just really doesn’t work, or it gets worse.

There’s a reason that He says, “My grace is sufficient for you.” It’s because we need it. Did you get blind sided? Did it not turn out the way you planned even though you were meticulous? The things you put your trust and hope in are the things you’ll fall by.

And if you put all that trust in youself and you took matters into your own hands without Him? Then you’ll fall. If you put your trust in Him, you’ll still fall but the difference is that He’ll catch you.

It’s the most basic logic that if the world is crumbling around you, then you can’t catch yourself on anything to pull yourself back up because there’s nothing to grab.

Except Him.

It’s okay to not want to talk for a time, or to not cope well for a time, but if your history feels like it’s repeating, then maybe it’s time to start calling for help through the bars. If you feel like you can’t get out of the cycle of overthink, if you can’t stop berating yourself, if you’re intimidated or afraid or evasive, those might be red flags that your trusty think space has now become your permanent residence. It’s time to start calling for help through the bars to people you trust.

The danger of staying in the cell and not calling out for help is potential rotting. What I mean by rotting is increasing despair, intesifying beratement and belittlement of yourself, perpetual and growing self doubt and fear. The right people help protect us. They say things that might at first make us uncomfortable or cut us but at the same time that thing they say should also soothe. We need people in our lives to be honestly loving and lovingly honest and say, “hey, what you did there or what happened to you is not all there is.” Even if it was wrong. Even if it was awful. In my own life and in the lives of many others I’ve been privileged to talk to I’ve found three things. They aren’t the Bible so please do use common sense and think them through. Even test them. Please. Actually, I challenge you to.

1) people who don’t talk or aren’t willing to be told they’re wrong “rot” and their stench sends away people.

2) people who dare to get vulnerable and ask for help, like a child (because that’s what we are), receive aid.

3) God has more than enough grace for both individuals and pursues them relentlessly with His wisdom, grace, and love.

Asking for help will probably be terrifying. Asking for help might be hard and be difficult to know where to start because it means prying the door to your prison open. Ironically and unfortunately, it’s hard to find a weak spot in our strongholds even though our strongholds are against us and ARE our weak spot. But if you ask Him to, He’ll give you the confidence and discernment on where to start working away, and He’ll give you the tools, instruction, and encouragement. He’s done this once or twice.

And also, please please know He loves you and that He was never your enemy and is an ever present help in times of trouble. Invite Him in and lay down your life history and circumstances at His feet. And ask Him to show up however He wants to. Just a forewarning, you may be made really uncomfortable but I promise you it is so so worth it. And really, what have you got to lose? A cell isn’t very compatible with a comfortable lifestyle anyways.

And I pray you find peace in knowing that your life will not always be the way it is today.

 

 

Hold On to Hope. // The Thing About Time.

“Any fool can survive a crisis. It’s the day to day living that wears you out. ” – Anton Checkov

This quote has always stuck in my head, but I’m really starting to feel it this year. For the past half of a year, nothing really substantial has occurred that is apart from the daily.

But this is one of those few times that I’ve struggled so hard to not be resentful of my present circumstance. Constantly biting at the bit, this dreamer is ravenous for adventure and to be anywhere but locked up in a room alone with stacks of homework to do but instead staring blankly at a wall or computer screen. I’m craving forests, mountains, the outdoors. I’m longing for loved ones, quality conversation and time.

And I could feel tension slowly grating away on my sanity.

 

Time. I once used to think of myself as a patient person. When I was going through this desert of a time, I knew that the trial would end eventually. I knew that I should take heart, for each season ends and brings to life a new one.

“My God, why? Why can’t we skip all these extraordinarily dull days so I can actually be out accomplishing things? I think I understand where you’re trying to take me (very, very vaguely) but why take so much time?”

Time.

Finally, a break. And I come to hear, like a small whisper in the wind, a voice say to my heart, “Life will move along regardless of you.” And then peace. If you’re reading this and going through “a time”, I really need you to listen. There are two things.

This time you’re going through will end, and bring forth a new time.

There is nothing you can do to make this time end any faster or slower.

And here I pull in a verse that people use all the time. Seriously all the time. They could have a shop full of merchandise with this verse plastered all over their stuff because that’s how much it gets used. I digress.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

Look carefully. Who knows the plans for your life? The LORD. So, now a question for you. Do you see your name in that verse beside the Lord? Does it say that you and the Lord know the Lord’s plans for you? Nope.

If God know the plans He has for you, and He is sovereign, does that mean that you have to be on the in for it to be a good plan or to bring about executing that plan by the best possible way necessary? No.

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” – Isaiah 55:9

God holds the reins. There arises issues and conflict when we get control-hungry and try to take those reins away. We start to veer everywhere but “on course” it seems. This is either really good news or really bad. Really bad if it makes you overthink, “Well Delynn, I’m trying to do my best and do what God wills in this moment so He can do the most with me, but I just feel like I’m not where I’m supposed to be.” To which I have to say (and God please help me because I so desperately need to remind myself of this), “You are never in a place where God doesn’t need you to be in or can’t use you.” (Creds to my Love for this quote).

Time. It moves faster or slower for no man. There are no exceptions. We don’t have the full picture and sometimes are really prone to believe that God doesn’t know where the heck He’s driving. Please, He’s the best driver there is and He has the most comprehensive view than every man that has lived, is living, and will live combined. The only thing that makes for crazy driving is your rebellion of the action plan He’s trying to carry out.. And despite the maneuvers He’s doing or the actions you take that weren’t according to plan, He has the incredible knack for bringing the good out of any and every situation. How? Because He knows how all the roads and paths work out – He made them after all.

It would be like asking a total random stranger who has never been to a location before to workout an elaborate route through networks of roads and hi ways and byways they’ve never seen before in their lives. Are you going to ask the guy who made the roads and their systems to drive, or are you, the total stranger to such path ways going to try to make the best of it? Did I mention that your life is the cost if you don’t get to the end destination? But the guy who made the roads happens to love you more than you can fathom and has offered to drive for you. Don’t know about you, but I’m definitely going to take up His offer.

If you feel like your life is one move away from a 5 car pile up or that you’re already in the scrap yard, He has the ability to make even the most unquestionable of lost causes newer and better than the original form they came in.

“There is a time for everything, and a time for every matter under heaven.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1

This season will end. Hold on to the hope that is yours in Christ with unrelenting hands, because this world will try everything to try and steal it from you and make all your days insignificant. They aren’t, so don’t fall for the lie that they are.